How to Let Them Down Gently
Whether you've been with your partner for a week, a month or a year, ending the relationship is never easy. Keep reading for 5 tips on how to let them down gently.
Do It in Person
If you think that this should go without saying, then Google "text message breakup." Go ahead, we'll wait.
That was depressing, wasn't it? Moral of the story: when you're breaking up with someone, do it in person. Don't text them, don't call them, don't email them. Even if you and your partner have become distant and much of your communication takes place online or via text, you owe them a face-to-face meeting.
Of course, there are a couple exceptions. If you're in a long distance relationship and an actual in-person meeting with your partner isn't feasible, a phone call is acceptable. The other exception would be if you have any concern for your physical safety, which leads us to the next point.
Choose the Time and Place Wisely
This isn't just the stuff of romantic comedies, this scenario actually happens: A guy asks his girlfriend out to their favorite romantic restaurant or another spot that has special meaning to them. She thinks they're just out for a fun evening, only to discover that he's ending the relationship. Ouch.
When you're planning out the conversation, the time and place you choose matters almost as much as the words that come out of your mouth. If possible, schedule a meeting during the middle of the day, and choose a public place where you can have privacy without being alone. Not only will this set an appropriate tone for the conversation, but it will hopefully prevent your soon-to-be ex from making a scene.
Also, don't break up over dinner unless you're ready to have the most awkward meal of your life.
Be Kind, but Be Direct
Okay, now for the actual conversation. Whether you're ending a relationship or you're letting a date know that you're not interested in seeing them for a second date, be direct, but be kind.
If you're on a first date and talk of a follow-up date should come up, it's perfectly acceptable to simply say that while you've enjoyed your afternoon/evening, you're not interested in pursuing the relationship. If possible, leave it at that; at this point in the relationship, your date really isn't entitled to an explanation. Hopefully he or she will have enough grace and dignity to accept that without pressing you to defend your lack of interest, which obviously wouldn't be pleasant for anyone.
If you're ending a relationship, you owe your partner more than a simple, "This isn't working for me anymore." Ideally they won't be completely blindsided and will have a general idea about at least some of your discontentment. Gently point out the differences in your goals, worldviews, interests or whatever it is that would keep you from eternal bliss.
In either scenario, kindness and directness are equally important. Don't get sucked into the blame game; the breakup doesn't need to be someone's fault. Make sure that you convey the finality of the relationship, and don't give false hope. It may be tempting to try to lessen the sting of rejection by promising that you still want to be friends or by telling them that maybe you'll want a relationship in the future, but you're just not interested in dating anyone right now. This gives them false hope that if they can just wait it out, they can win you back.
Keep It Short and to the Point
This isn't a conversation that is fun for anyone, so don't drag it out. Say your piece, give them an opportunity to respond, and then leave. The more you keep the conversation going, the more likely you are to say (or hear) something that you'll wish that you hadn't.
Keep it Off of Social Media
Social media makes it so easy to rally support, doesn't it? Everyone loves a good drama, and some people live to watch one unfold in real time via the Internet. Especially if they're second-guessing your decision, it's tempting to post the whole sordid tale on social media, simply to get the votes of encouragement.
Obviously you can't control what your ex or would-have-been partner posts online. However, no matter what they say or what other people say, resist the urge to defend yourself. Just stay classy and stay out of it altogether; the excitement will die down soon enough and everyone will move on with their lives.
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